Well, you turn your back for a moment, and look what happens!
Those of you who were here Independence Day weekend probably heard – and many others of you have noticed. Over that Friday night, while I was away, thieves tore the copper downspouts off the east side of the church and the west side of the convent. They took them to sell the copper as scrap, since it has such a high value these days.
They hit Saint John the Evangelist about six weeks ago, and other churches have suffered, too. Two men were arrested for stealing copper wire along the Amtrak rail lines, and police estimate they got $19,000 worth of it. Also hit have been air conditioning units, for their copper components. Of course, the cash value of the copper as scrap is but a fraction of the cost of replacing any of it.
I find it particularly galling that these troubled souls should take from churches, and while that may just be my predjudice, I also have a basis for it.
These copper downspouts, along with the granite eaves, are a sign that the priests and people who built this church did not skimp in offering something beautiful to God. Being quite familiar with all the aspects of our beautiful facilities here, I know that they did not give from what they had left over; they did not build the temple of the Lord after they had outfitted themselves completely. No; it was a priority for them to have – and leave us -- a beautiful church, and they set about doing it at great cost to themselves.
Now the challenge comes about what to do to replace them. I hate to use a lesser material, undermining the intention of our founders and the elegance of our church. But it makes no sense to put up new copper, only to give them a chance to tear it down. There’s not much more that we can do to protect them.
I will be nervous every time I go on summer vacation from now on, dreading the phone call like Father Nick’s last weekend. I KNEW he wasn’t calling just to say hello. Last year when I was away, someone smashed into the Blessed Mother statue and the entrance to the school. I cannot really credit these people with waiting until I am away to wreak their havoc, but I am suspicious.
The thieves left untouched the side of the church that faces the rectory, fearing the ramifications of awakening the priests. They have to know how many police spend at least part of their shifts in our parking lots overnight. What is left – besides electrifying the downspouts, which I admit has some appeal? What is there to do to keep our holy place safe?
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle! Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, cast down into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. Only prayer can defend us against sin – sins of others, and our own. Peace! Monsignor Smith